The Details begins with Tobey Maguire’s character Jeff recalling a seemingly random set of moments, trying to find the instance where everything started to go wrong. Jeff is a young married doctor who drives a Prius with an Obama sticker on the bumper. He lives in a nice neighborhood and has a nice family. All he wants to do is expand his house and sod his lawn. As the lies and deceit pile up, Jeff must deal with his basketball-playing, kidney-failing friend, his crazy cat-lady neighbor and raccoons, raccoons, raccoons.
Jeff sneaks out of his room in the middle of the night,careful not to wake his wife. He sits down at his computer and searches for porn and emails women. Later, he meets up with old classmate and longtime friend Rebecca (Kerry Washington) at a bar. They speaks at length about his digital flirtations and his craving for an affair. There’s no guilt, no embarrassment as he discusses it. He’s not the simple character he initially appeared to be, and this is only the beginning.
“You can know someone for so long but never really know them,” Jeff says to his wife (Elizabeth Banks) early in the film.
The film wanders blindly between genres. There are moments of slapstick comedy and lengthy scenes of intense drama. These sorts of mood changes aren’t always a bad thing. All the actors involved are more than capable of switching emotions at the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, like the characters within it, the film seems afraid to stand its ground, and its quick mood swings often feel awkward.
The soundtrack to the film seemed completely out of place. Composer team tomandandy have made effective and tense scores in the past with movies like The Mothman Prophecies and Estes’ previous film Mean Creek, but in this film, the music seems inappropriate. The soundtrack wouldn’t be out of place on Tales From The Crypt or even a quirky episode of Pushing Daisies. It’s over-the-top and light hearted nature doesn’t meld well with the action on the screen. Music should complement a film’s tone and not dictate it
The music isn’t the only thing that is out of place in the film. Some other creative choices seem a bit odd including several dream sequences and memory cutaways that are never more than one-shot cutaways. They are jarring and seem almost like an afterthought.
All this is not to say the film is without merit. It’s not a bad film. It’s just a bit unstable. There are many well-executed and well-acted scenes. One scene between Maguire and Ray Liotta on a bridge stands out in particular. The casting of Liotta was perfect and his typecasting plays well into the movie’s theme. All of the actors bring their A game and the pacing never falters.
I give The Details 3 “grand pianos” out of 5.
by Matt Glass